Over the years I have used literally hundreds of camping stoves. From unleaded fuel, kerosene, methylated spirits and of course propane. Recently, I followed a Facebook discussion on the best stove to take on a motorcycle. So I thought I should write a review on my favourite bit of camping gear, the Jetboil Flash camping stove. I also have a “Fumo” stove kit and will do a review of that at a later date.
Spoilt for choice
There are thousands of camping stoves on the market, with an equally varied range of prices. Some people will buy the cheapest stoves and these will suffice for their needs. While others will always go for the absolute best they can find. I like to buy a product that is going to do what I need it to do and continue doing this for a long time. My purchase decision revolves around the following criteria:
- Pack size
- Easy of set up
- Build Quality
What am I going to do with this stove?
When I first started motorcycle touring I used a simple gas burner on a propane cylinder, I had a small pan set that included two small pans. While it was a great little kit most of the time I was just boiling water. This was for either dehydrated meals or for coffee. However, quite often my simple gas burner would be effected by wind and temperature. Sometimes taking almost 10 minutes to boil.
I would also take medium sized gas cylinders, matches and a lighter, everything taking up valuable space in my panniers. The matches and/or lighter would often disappear at night time, even though I attempted to keep all that stuff in one little bag. After my first trip, I concluded my primary need for a stove was simple to use, have wind protection and an electronic starter.
I must have mentioned this a number of times to Santa, because Christmas rocked up and in my stocking was a brand new Jetboil Flash camp stove.
The Jetboil Flash stove boils water, quickly. It also uses significantly less gas than my previous stove. Where I would take two medium gas cylinders on a 30 day trip, I could get away with only two small canisters with the Jetboil.
One of the down sides of the Jetboil Flash is that it is not recommended for cooking food. WTF, this surely is a major down side to a gas cooking stove. I have been told that if you cook food in it you will void its warrantee.
To be fair to Jetboil, they have a hugh range of Jetboil products, all of which are rated for cooking food. The Jetboil Flash is designed to boil one litre of water, very quickly. Jetboil the company suggest the gas and therefore temperature control on the cheaper model ($150.00 AUS) is not accurate enough for appropriate heat control. Yep, that’s what they said. But the more expensive models are more than adequate for that job.
But there are a couple of things other than temp control that would put me off trying to use this to cook food with. First, it’s quite deep and therefore difficult to see what’s happening with your food. Second, the coating inside isn’t the best I’ve seen on a pot. Third, the material handle doesn’t lend itself for pouring your food onto a plate.
Adding cooking accessories to the Jetboil Flash improves its usefulness. There is a cooking ring (has to be purchased separately) that supports pans and a coffee strainer for plunger coffee. I use the support with my Santa provided Jetboil frying pan. I also have a collapsible Sea to Summit pan. There are no problems with temperature control when cooking food with the pot support in place. The support itself if very generous and all the pots I use sit securely on the support.
In a previous life I was a toolmaking design engineer, I used to make sheetmetal press tooling and plastic moulds. This gave me a unique perspective on how products were made and the types of materials used in those products. The support ring (sold separately) and the burner unit and surrounds of the Jetboil Flash are stainless steel. They are very well made and accurate. The plastic mouldings are solid and a good engineering design. I can’t make out the plastic, but suspect it could be nylon which is an engineering plastic, but more than likely it’s Polypropylene (like your wheelie bins). The only way I can tell would be to light it on fire and watch what type of flame was produced. Needless to say, I’m not prepared to do that but it feels solid and looks well designed and moulded.
The pot is made of mild steel and is well made. However, the coating on the pot seems very light weight. The bottom inside the pot has a rust mark that I can’t scrape off, clearly I didn’t dry it or the gas cylinder when I packed it up at some stage. This is a bit of a let down and I would have thought considering the quality of the rest of the product this should have been a priority (especially for the price).
The pot is covered by a neoprene collar and a nylon strap/handle. The neoprene cover also has a heat sensitive jell that turns orange when the water is boiling. That’s great, but not really very useful. I would rather they forget the jell and make a decent handle. The handle and the coating are the only downside to this products build quality.
Ease of setup
The Jetboil Flash is very easy to set up. All that you need is contained within the pot, secured by the tight fitting lid.
To set up the Jetboil Flash, take off the lid and the base cap. Put the leg support on the gas cylinder and then screw the stove assembly onto the gas cylinder. Fill the pot and twist it into place. Turn the gas on leaver and click the self igniter. Presto, hot water in about two minutes. The pot support has four lugs that twist out and then it fits securely to the gas heating unit.
One important note: Just remember to pull down the wire gas valve lever before assembling the heating unit to the gas canister. You’ll see what I mean.
The whole unit only weights 610 grams with a full gas cylinder inside. It measures 108mm diameter by 180mm high. It can boil one litre of water in about two minutes and can easily fit with the rest of my cooking gear in my pannier.
The Jetboil Flash costs about $150 AUS and is on the higher price range for adventure stoves. There are more expensive products and more expensive Jetboil products in the range. I have seen Jetboil Flash knock offs advertised for $35 – $50 AUS, but the build quality isn’t as good. I’m thinking of getting one to test out and compare, so watch this space.
My Jetboil stove was expensive (three times the cost of my old set up). However, it is easy to set up and packed away. It includes the electric starter and everything you need when back packing, adventure riding or just traveling lightly. It boils water really fast, there’s no waiting around. Like many North American designed products the casings or pots look light weight but in my experience tend to last the distance.
I would highly recommend this product over all the existing concepts. I took it with me to Cape York. Many of my traveling companions were hoping Santa would visit them and bring their own Jetboil Flash stove.
Hopefully you have found this gear review helpful. If you have please leave comments in the section below. I would love to hear your experiences with this product. Ride safe and I’ll see you out there:)
Where can I buy this product?
Click on the button below to take you to my affiliate link or visit your local camping shop.